Monday, November 21, 2011

CLCD and the Universities: A Case Study

            The Bowling Green State University (Ohio) College of Education and Human Development is academic home to over 5,00 students, including more than 1,000 graduate students. Their Curriculum Resource Center, according to its Mission Statement, “supports the teaching programs in the College of Education and Human Development and other BGSU education-related programs.” Kathy Yoder, Education Librarian at the Center, works with students training to work in the field of education, helping them find materials appropriate for their assignments or to use in pre-service work. She also helps maintain a collection of trade books for children and young adults. “Education students come to us with some memories of their favorite books from childhood, but not knowing what makes a good book to use in the classroom,” Yoder says. “We work with them, in literature classes, and in the CRC, to help them find that perfect book for a lesson. The Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database is a fantastic resource for them. Once we make them aware of its existence and show them how to use it, they use it frequently. Standards based education means our students must look at Ohio’s standards and find trade books on topic at correct reading levels in all curriculum areas. CLCD’s many search qualifiers make that easier for them.” Yoder finds the pre-service students particularly need help determining reading and interest levels. “CLCD allows input for age, grade, Reading Level, Interest Level, Lexile, and Point Range. How helpful is that!” Graduate students also use the Database’s ability to search thematically when they create bibliographies for their units, culling titles from fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and picture books. Yoder says teachers in the College of Education often imbed a link to CLCD in Blackboard and others hold classes in the Curriculum Resource Center so Yoder is available to teach them some of the tricks to make their searching even more successful. Yoder herself uses the Database to help her build the CRC’s excellent collection. “When I need a stock of books to address a particular standard, for example 7th grade study of Ancient Civilizations, I turn to the Database. The lists of awards are also extremely helpful. It’s great to be able to pull up the reviews and awards right there when I am making collection decisions, whether for the schools’ or college’s curriculum. I love that it’s here and make sure there is money for it in our budget since it’s not part of the Consortium.”

            Located in the Chestnut Hill area just outside Boston, Massachusetts, Boston College is proud of its long history of excellence. The Educational Resource Center is one of Boston College’s Special Libraries, and sits in Campion Hall, which also houses the Lynch School of Education. The ERC aims to provide outstanding and relevant print and multi-media materials to its 1800 pre-service and graduate students for use in their courses and fieldwork, as well as for its faculty.

            Margaret Cohen, Head Librarian of the ERC, finds the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database helpful in teaching the undergraduate Children’s Literature classes, for the weekly Read Aloud Sessions for English Language Learners, and for checking for a snapshot look at reviews when she receives a request for a particular item. Cohen says, “It’s important to teach pre-service students use of CLCD so they understand how to choose books for use with young people. The aggregate full-text reviews allow them to see w h a t professionals look for as they evaluate books and help them know what to consider as they look at books themselves. My literature students must compile a thematic, annotated bibliography as a final project. The Database, with its many search features including genres, fiction, and non-fiction, is invaluable to them. The students really like that it pulls so much together.” It’s not just literature students using the Database, however.

            The ability to search Interest Levels and Reading Levels in the Database is a huge help for those working with Boston College’s Read-Aloud Program, a partnership program with the Boston Public Schools in which students and staff of Boston College go into the schools weekly to read aloud to English Language Learners. Cohen points out “Training is provided, including updated booklists and an introduction to CLCD to help them find appropriate materials on their own.”

            Students and staff have access to the Database across campus and remotely. “The remote access is a huge plus,” according to Cohen. “No matter where they are, there’s access.” Personally, Cohen uses CLCD for collection development. “It’s really very helpful when weeding. Having reviews going back years allows me to judge a book’s worth in the collection. The ability to sort by publication date makes it easier for me to find newer materials to fill gaps as curriculum changes or to fulfill specific requests.” Cohen promotes the Database widely to faculty and students. “The statistics prove it’s worth the money spent,” Cohen concluded. “I have to justify its purchase every October and the numbers bear out that it’s big at the university!”

            Texas Woman’s University’s School of Library and Information Studies offers the MLS and MALS degrees through Distance Education, with students completing all of their coursework online. The demands of the profession mesh well with Distance Education, helping students acquire needed skills in information technologies, problem solving, and communication. “It allows more leeway for those actually working. Deadlines are met but you don’t have to actually show up. I actually have had students in China and Venezuela during a semester,” says Dr. Jeanette Larson, SLIS Adjunct Instructor who works with graduate students. “The Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database is a wonderful tool for our students; it’s available anywhere that has Internet access and gives them so much. Not only can they see multiple reviews on so many books, they also can access author websites, curriculum guides, up-to-date thematic booklists, and book awards lists from the Database.

            It’s one-stop shopping!” Larson finds it important to help her students develop an underlying understanding of a review source and its purpose. “Amazon’s recommendations and parents’ blogs are fine for an individual’s purchases, but they are not what should be used to determine a school or public library’s book collection. Professional reviews need to be used in making library purchases. “Larson’s students must read lots of children’s and young adult literature, of course, but she recognizes it’s not always possible for them to physically look at all the books. “The Database allows them to see so many reviews; they learn how to interpret reviews.” She has her students read reviews on specific titles and virtually discuss what others have said about the book. “Point of view matters,” says Larson, “and I work hard to help them appreciate the professional reviews, written by those who have a real working knowledge of literature for young people.”

            Her students find CLCD helpful in pulling together themed “collections” within a given budget amount. Students work with its many search options to build lists by grade, interest, and more. “Of course they have access to other online databases,” says Larson, “but CLCD is the go to one for much of their work. They love that a statewide contract makes it available to them through their public libraries, any university in Texas, or most school districts. It’s not just a graduate school thing, it’s real world.”

            Whether used as a research tool, teaching tool, or collection development tool, these three librarians find CLCD extremely valuable in their work with students and faculty. “Its versatility works for our various needs,” says Yoder. “We couldn’t be more pleased.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Themed Reviews: Thanksgiving

            In 1621, Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared a harvest feast, recognized as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations. The feast was thought to last three days and include such foods as deer, fowl, and corn. Now, nearly 400 years later, Thanksgiving Day looks a bit different. Turkey, pumpkin pie, and mash potatoes are just a few of the many foods associated with this holiday.

            Of course those early Americans would not have been watching football or parades either. The tradition of Thanksgiving Day football games began in 1934 when the Detroit Lions played the Chicago Bears and the first televised game was in 1956. The Macy's parade kicked off the Christmas shopping season for the first time in 1924. The early parades were on a much smaller scale than today's elaborate productions. Macy's employees ran the parade and animals from the Central Park Zoo were some of the main attractions. Now, some 3 million people attend the parade route and a further 44 million watch it on TV. The new picture book, Balloons over Broadway, tells the story of the Tony Sarg, the puppeteer and marionette-maker who transformed the parade with balloons and floats.

            The recent children's and young adult titles featured here focus on Thanksgiving and its rich history and traditions. To search for more titles, learn about awards, and find curriculum tools search the CLCD database at

For more information about Thanksgiving visit:

Over the River and Through the Wood
L. Maria Child
Illustrated by Matt Tavares

            Over the River and Through the Wood is a new, illustrated version of Lydia Maria Child's classic verse about Thanksgiving. Born outside Boston, Child's was a teacher, writer, and editor, as well as an abolitionist and women's rights activist. She is best remembered for this poem, which is based on her memories traveling to her grandfather's house for Thanksgiving with her family. Tavares breathes new life into this holiday verse with big, vivid illustrations of a snowy New England winter. There is a cheerful tone to the story; Tavares' watercolor, pencil, and gouache illustrations are set in a historic time. A young family--dad, mom, son, daughter, and puppy--travel in the snow-covered town and woods in their horse and carriage to get to their grandfather's house. Like many popular children's songs, I thought I knew this poem but realized in reality I was only familiar with the first few lines. This would be an excellent choice for a Thanksgiving read-aloud in the home, classroom, or library. A note about the author is included. 2011, Candlewick Press, Ages 6 up, $16.99. Reviewer: Emily Griffin (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 978-0-7636-2790-4

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Themed Reviews: Veteran's Day

            On November 11, 1918 an armistice between Allied Forces and Germany was signed, ending World War I after four years of fighting. The armistice ended hostilities at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The following year U.S. President Woodrow Wilson issued the first Armistice Day proclamation:

            To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.

            On Armistice Day in 1921, an unidentified American soldier killed in WWI was buried in a special tomb in Arlington National Cemetery; now known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by members of The Old Guard and located near the center of the cemetery.

            Armistice Day was declared a Federal holiday in 1938. Celebrations honoring WWI veterans continued to include parades, public gatherings, and moments of silence.

            After World War II and the Korean War, veteran service organizations lobbied congress to amend the 1938 act—changing the word "Armistice" to "Veterans." This new legislation was signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on June 1, 1954. Since November 11, 1954 the U.S. has honored American veterans, living or dead, of all wars on Veterans Day.

            The following recently published books are about Veterans Day, wars involving American soldiers, or the impact veterans have on their friends and family. Browse through this feature and those from previous years to discover more.

For more information about Veterans Day visit:

Army: Civilian to Soldier
Meish Goldish
            In 2006 at the age of seventeen, Ian Fisher decided to forgo college and enlist in the U.S. Army. America had already been at war in Iraq for a few years. His dream was to learn to fight and defend his country in this distant Middle East nation. To do that, Ian was sent to basic combat training at Fort Benning, Georgia. One of five locations across America that train new Army recruits, this nine-week course involves intense physical training, hand-to-hand fighting skills, and weapons instruction. Using large, full-color photographs taken by U.S. Army soldiers, readers follow the training of Fisher, learning about the infamous bag drill, the importance of their battle buddy, and why drill sergeants are so important. Basic training is not the end of a soldier's education, however. For Ian Fisher, that meant training for a special combat team and a tour in Iraq. Other Army jobs range from driving a tank to helping wounded soldiers on the field and off. Part of a well-written five-book series about "Becoming a Soldier," the authenticity of the text is supported by the efforts of consultant Fred Pushies, a U.S. SOF (Special Operations Force) Advisor. Educators will appreciate the controlled text of an average 85 words per two-page spread, written at a third-grade level, as well as the glossary, index and bibliography that makes for a good nonfiction title. Readers looking for an example of unique community helpers, and students with an interest in military careers and/or with parents in the military will be drawn to the narrative text and excellent photographs that describe a world not entirely unknown to them. 2011, Bearport Publishing Company, $22.61. Ages 6 to 12. Reviewer: Kris Sauer (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781936088119